Double Standard Evident in Coverage
In mid-August, Republicans from across
America arrived in New Orleans to nominate George Bush as their
candidate for President of the United States. But reporters for the four
television networks repeatedly portrayed the Republicans as extreme and
on the fringe of the American political spectrum. How? By incessantly
labeling convention goers as conservative ideologues and attacking
Republicans all they could--on issues including opposition to abortion,
ERA, the plant closings bill, and the Civil Rights Restoration Act.
Looking at the Democratic Convention
coverage a month earlier, a media double standard becomes evident.
Reporters in Atlanta fawned over the Democrats and their policies.
Viewers at home saw presidential nominee Michael Dukakis portrayed as a
competent manager and political moderate, not an ideological liberal. In
fact, network anchors and reporters labeled Michael Dukakis a moderate
almost as often as they tagged him liberal. The networks avoided
substance as much as possible. Any controversies surrounding the
Democrats and criticism of Dukakis' liberal record were all but ignored.
To conduct the study, analysts evaluated
ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC News coverage of the two political conventions in
a variety of areas.
Key Findings of this MediaWatch
-- Labeling -- Republicans got tagged two
and a half times more often than Democrats.
-- Questions asked -- Republicans had to
respond to Democratic agenda issues more than twice as often as
Democrats were challenged with Republican themes.
-- Controversies -- From the frenzy over
Quayle to the Iran/Contra affair, the networks had no trouble finding
time to highlight Republican controversies. But in Atlanta, reporters
were silent on events dogging Democrats.
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